Islanders Drop Radio Voices, To Simulcast TV Audio

Thanks to SMJ friend Neil Best for alerting me to this story in Newsday by Islanders beat writer Greg Logan on the decision by the New York Islanders not to renew the contracts of radio announcers Steve Mears and Chris King.

According to the article, the move was made after the team received permission from Madison Square Garden Network to simulcast the television audio of announcers Howie Rose and Bill Jaffe.

This is the first I had heard of such an arrangement by a “big-4” professional sports team to simulcast television audio on radio,  that is until pointed out in Logan’s piece that the practice is also being done by the Buffalo Sabres.

This may soon become the trend in sports where the role of radio play-by-play coverage becomes less relevant.  Only baseball, with its slower pace, still translates well on radio. With ratings drops and revenue cuts facing teams and radio stations, I can see a day when all audio broadcasts of games will be off terrestrial radio and housed within a team’s website.  Actually not a bad idea.

0 comments

  1. Vin Scully simulcasts part of every Dodgers game. … For what it’s worth, Wikipedia says hockey’s Buffalo, Dallas and Nashville do it, too.

  2. I don’t really even find television announcers descriptive enough for television. I shudder to think what listening to an audio-only feed of that would be like. The concept behind a radio broadcast is that the broadcaster has to be our eyes and translate what he sees into words and sound, which is not the same as the concept behind a television broadcast.

    A simulcast might work if the broadcasters were to call the game for the people on the radio primarily, since a little extra description on television never hurt anyone, but, let’s face it, with primarily a television audience tuning in, they’ll be calling games for television with radio as an after-thought, and they will probably be unlistenable on the radio (or an online audio feed, etc.) — it’ll be nearly impossible to figure out what’s going on, or get a score, etc. because people will be assumed to be watching and looking at the little scorebox in the corner of the screen. And good luck getting a pitch-by-pitch account of a baseball game.

    Radio broadcasting is an art, it is not the same as television broadcasting. And I think we’ll miss it if it disappears. There are a lot of people who enjoy closing their eyes and letting the audio broadcast paint a picture in the theatre of the mind, or have the game on the radio while driving or doing something else with their eyes and hands. Blind folks also *need* radio broadcasts to follow sports.

    I realize that radio as a medium may be evolving with technology and that the future may be streaming audio online through computers and personal devices (maybe in cars through a wireless connection via cell towers), and so on and so forth. And that’s fine. But an audio-only feed requires someone calling a game as it would be called today on the radio, whatever the new medium, or it is going to be an inferior product.

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